Honor MagicBook Pro Review: So much power, so little heat

I’ve been testing a few more laptops here lately, so when I got the chance to test our Honor’s new MagicBook Pro, with the biggest screen on an Honor laptop, plus the new AMD Ryzen 4600H processor, I had to say yes, and it is been an interesting experience.

Honor MagicBook Pro
+ FOR
  • - Ryzen 4600H is a beast
  • - Incredible cooling
  • - Great battery life and charging
  • - Fingerprint power button is cool
  • - Key travel is very comfy
- AGAINST
  • - Screen could be brighter
  • - Trackpad is wobbly
  • - Webcam placement sucks

Buy on Amazon UK

 

Disclaimer

Honor PR Provided me with this laptop for review purposes, no money has changed hands between either entity and Honor are not seeing this review before it goes live. The Laptop is also going to be returned to Honor PR before this review is published. This laptop was used for 5 weeks as one of my sole computing devices.

Honor MagicBook Pro Review

Specification

  • 16.1” LCD
    • 1920×1080
    • Matte
    • Non-touch
  • AMD Ryzen 5 4600H
    • 6 cores, 12 Threads
    • Zen 2
    • 3.00Ghz Base Clock
    • 4.00Ghz Boost clock
    • 45w TDP (Honor running in 35w TDP Down mode)
    • 6 core Vega GPU at 1.5Ghz
    • 7nm 
  • 16GB Dual Channel DDR4 RAM
  • 512GB NVMe SSD
  • 56Wh Battery
  • I/O
    • 1x USB-C (USB 3.2 Gen1 5gbps, DisplayPort, Charging)
    • 1x HDMI 2.0
    • 3x USB-A (USB 3.2 Gen1 5gbps)
    • 3.5mm combo audio jack
  • 234mmx369mmx16.9mm (HxWxD)
  • 1.7kg

 

Hardware

I got a lot of hate in my MagicBook 14 review a few months ago by saying that it took design inspiration from Apple’s MacBook Pro line of laptops, but I still stand by it, and here with the MagicBook Pro, it’s even more apparent, especially in the “space grey” colour. This isn’t a bad thing, it is a very attractive design, I see why they did it, but you cannot deny the visual similarities between the two.

Honor MagicBook Pro Review

The MagicBook Pro is an aluminium laptop all over with a slender profile of just 16.9mm that really does look a lot more expensive than it actually is. This dark grey colour scheme with the black keycaps and relatively large trackpad are meant to invoke that much more expensive machine, but with the familiarity of Windows ( remember, macOS has a smidgen over 17% of worldwide market share, the rest is Windows) and more ports to use your older, non-USB-C peripherals.

Honor MagicBook Pro Review

Opening up the lid of the MagicBook Pro you get to see how thin the lid is but also how little flex there is for such a thin lid with such a large panel inside it. The panel is weaker than if it were a touchscreen though, and that large pane of glass would have added some structural rigidity but would have also been more expensive. When you actually look at the screen it looks really nice, which 1080p at 16” isn’t the idea of fun for many people, it’s a pretty nice size to have windows at 100%, because as we all know, Windows’ scaling options still aren’t great, so a higher resolution panel would have cost more and not been as good of an experience. I do wish however this was a brighter panel. Honor claim it is around 300 nits, and that looks about right, much better than the barely 250 nit screen on the MagicBook 14 from a few months ago, but 350-400nit screens are becoming more common and are much more comfortable to look at. It also helps battery life, as running a dimmer screen at maximum brightness to make it comfortable to use compared to using a brighter screen at 70-80%. The efficiency of a panel drops off drastically at higher power levels, meaning your screen pulls a lot more power at 100% than it does at 85%, and if you had a brighter screen, your 85% and 100% luminance could be the same, but the second one would use less power as it is not in the inefficient part of the power curve.

Honor MagicBook Pro Review

Something you won’t notice on the screen is the webcam, that is because once again Honor has opted to put it into the keyboard. Whilst I understand why they’re doing it, webcams aren’t used as often as people think they are, so why leave it in a place that it is going to take up space. On the other hand, the place they have chosen really doesn’t look great. If you are using the keyboard flat on a desk you can usually see someone’s face (unless they’re really tall) but if you have a stand on your laptop, like the MOFT stand that I use, the camera view becomes stomach to the chin, much less attractive.

Honor MagicBook Pro Review

Moving on to the keyboard, this is both a positive thing for the MagicBook and a negative for me personally. They Magicbook Pro uses a full-sized keyboard with low profile but comfortable to type on key switches, albeit with the infuriating arrow key layout. The only issue I have… is me. After years of typing on a 10” YogaBook, a 12” Galaxy Book and a few months of the 13” MateBook, my hands cannot type on a full-sized laptop keyboard anymore, even after 5 weeks of nearly daily typing on this thing my brain just doesn’t spread my hands out enough to get the extremities of the keyboard. Initially, I thought my issue would be that I got sent a german unit with a german QWERTZ layout, but it turns out I’m a good enough touch typist to know where the keys are, but I’m also just bad enough of a touch typist that my hands can’t move a few millimetres to actually hit the edge keys I want to.

Honor MagicBook Pro Review

Having given this to someone who usually uses a 16” MacBook Pro, they had no issue with the key spacing or the key travel, but they did note that the keycaps wobbled a bit more than they were expecting, but the biggest issue for them was the German printing on the keys, not an issue retail customers will have. As is common for these reviews, I have written the MagicBook pro review on the MagicBook pro itself, and yes, on the internal keyboard, no cheating with a USB keyboard, I feel sorry for Grammarly and spell check right now. Something awesome to note, is the power button, the power button has an integrated Windows Hello Fingerprint scanner, the cool thing though his that it caches your fingerprint hash, what that means is that if the printer is off and you press the power button, it takes a snapshot of the fingerprint data (note, not a photo) boots up and when it comes to the log on screen it inputs that saved hash from earlier, logs you in, then deletes that hash, so you don’t need to press to wake it up then press to log in again.


Honor MagicBook Pro Review

Below the keyboard is the trackpad which, for a Windows laptop, especially one in this price range, is actually quite large, but not uncomfortably large like the newer Razer and Dell ones.it spans the width from the left of the spacebar to the right edge of the Alt key. The trackpad itself is either a glass trackpad with a soft-touch coating on it, or it is a rather stiff plastic one, either way, it feels very nice beneath my fingers and didn’t have too much drag making small movements a chore to do. I do have an issue with the trackpad which doesn’t appear to be localised to my unit. This is a traditional “diving board” trackpad design, wherein the trackpad is hinged from the top and you’re intended to clock closer to the bottom however the “spring back” on this feels incredibly weak, barely able to hold the weight of the trackpad itself. This is evidence by just resting my thumb on the trackpad, not pressing it, the trackpad visibly depresses and sits on top of the actuation switch, this is worse at the edges (where you’re expected to press) and on my unit much worse on the left than the right, this has lead to me not clicking things when I thought I had, very annoying. Whilst I’m not wanting the new haptic trackpad on the Huawei MateBook X 2020, a stiffer trackpad here would not go amiss.

Honor MagicBook Pro Review

Taking a look at I/O on the laptop, Honor did pretty well here, on the Left-hand side we have the USB-C port, which has a full-sized HDMI 2.0 port next to it, and a USB-A port next to it. On the right-hand side there are2 USB-A ports and a 3.5mm combo audio/mic jack. All the USB ports are the UB 3.2 Gen1 5gbps spec, and the USB-C port handles charging, Data and Video out, very useful if you have a USB-C docking station and use this as the core PC. Whilst I think this is a good amount of I/O I do think it could be better, I would personally swap one of the USB-A ports for another full-featured USB-C port on the right-hand side, allowing me to charge or dock from either side. Also perhaps an SDcard for professionals, with the horsepower this laptop has, editing photos and videos from SD cards is going to likely be a common thing, not having an SD card would be an annoyance.

Honor MagicBook Pro Review

On the underside of the laptop, there are two rubber feet that span the entire width of the laptop making it more stable on a table/desk and won’t slip and slide around. There is also a pretty monstrous fan intake grid on the bottom, without doing the maths, I’m guesstimating 85% of the width of the laptop base has holes in it for feeding the fans. This might scare some of you, thinking that it needs so much fan and air to keep it cool, on the contrary, the CPU runs very cool, but when you have larger fans you can spin them slower, and with such open-air base you don’t need to struggle to get the air into the fans so the fans will last longer. In fact, the only time I heard the fans ramp up was when I was encoding in Handbrake, downloading DOOM 2016 from steam, and when running Cinebench.

 

Software

Software isn’t usually something that needs speaking about on Windows machines, Windows is Windows and for the most part, nothing changes, but Honor has added a few things to the MagicBook pro to make better use of their ecosystem, and that starts with magic-link. If you have a Huawei or Honor phone running EMUI10/MagicUI 3.0 or higher with NFC, simply touch the phone to the Magic-Link sticker on the bottom right corner of the wrist rest and approve the connection on the laptop. You will now have a window on your laptop of the phone screen that you can interact with, if you open up gallery or files, you can drag and drop from your phone to your laptop, and vice versa. 

 

You also get another app called “PC Manager” and it just sits in the system tray next to action centre, clicking on it opens up the pc manager software itself. This side panel overlay isn’t the most useful, I do enjoy the clipboard history so I can go back and re-copy something into my clipboard without having to find the initial thing again but what I really like is the system monitor and driver manager. If you right-click on the PC Manager icon in the tray and select “enable PC manager” a window pops up and shows you your current CPU and RAM usage, you can check when the last time you check for driver updates was, do you have any that need updating, if you do it’ll download and queue them up here. And not just trackpad or Bluetooth drivers, this also includes full-on BIOS/UEFI updates as well, and I think this is a pretty neat thing for Honor to put in the laptop.

One software change I’m really not a fan of, and it is pretty petty, is that Honor is still partitioning the boot drive on the laptop. The 512GB NVMe drive from Western digital is split into a 120GB C: drive and a  340GB D: drive. There is no need for this, and since windows automatically build the file structure off of the main directory on the C drive, by default everything will save to the photos, videos, documents, downloads folder of the smaller C: drive for no reason.

 

Performance

The MagicBook Pro is a screamer, not literally, those fans are pretty damn quiet, but the Ryzen 5 4600H is an absolute beast of a chip, even in the underclocked TDP-down state that Honor is running it in. The Ryzen 5 4600H is a 6 core, 12 Thread Zen 2 chip with a 6 core Vega GPU, and given that generous thermal budget, the Vega GPU gets it’s fair share of juice, equalling or just kerb stomping the Intel Iris Plus graphics and the low-end Nvidia MX250 even in 25w mode. The base clockspeed of the CPU is 3.00Ghz, with a single-core boost up to 4.00Ghz.

Honor MagicBook Pro Review

Until I get this figured out I do have to say that I don’t have the best testing methodology, if you want insanely detailed graphs and charts for boost duration and disk I/Os at multiple different Queue Depths, I’m going to have to redirect you to PCPer or AnandTech. My Performance testing is playing some DOOM 2016 (i added in some Star Wars: KotOR-II this time because I’m been playing it again) Cinebench R20, Geekbench 5, WebXPRT, CrystalDiskMark, and a video render in DaVinci Resolve.

 

Starting off with Cinebench R20, I ran this three times, once on battery power on the middle-performance setting in the battery manager, and I got 2938, the second time I ran it (after letting it cool for 5 minutes) I put the performance slider to the maximum and got 2965. Lastly, I plugged the laptop into AC power to have the higher performance available and got 3097. What do those numbers mean? Well, it means that this 35w 6 core laptop chip is within spitting distance of a 2013 Intel server part with 12 cores and a 130w TDP! How about something newer, these scores are basically in line with the current desktop Intel 10600T, and Ryzen 5 2600X, if you’re having performance problems on this laptop, it isn’t the APUs fault, that’s for sure.

Moving on to Geekbench 5, in the CPU test, I got a 678 single-core, and 3828 on multi-core. On the Compute side of things, there is the OpenCL test and the Vulkan test. For OpenCL, the MagicBook Pro got 6623, and on the Vulkan test, the MagicBook Pro got 8877.

This is my first time including WebXPRT in a review, and I’m not sure why I waited so long to do it. It’s a really simple test to run, it runs it inside of the browser, obviously and tests common things people do on their devices such as photo retouching, organising a photo document directory, simulating homework online and more, and the MagicBook Pro scored 212, which is equivalent roughly to the Desktop R5 2600 or i5 9500H.

 

Honor MagicBook Pro Review

Booting up CrystalDiskMark I’m running the stock config, which is 5 test passes, 1GiB test size, I’m testing it on the nearly full C: drive as well as the practically empty D: drive. On the C: drive I got 3418.90MB/s sequential reads, and 2713.77MB/s sequential writes. On the nearly empty drive, however, the scores didn’t change as much as I thought, in fact, they barely changed, with 3431.44MB/s reads and 2712.55MB/s writes, impressive. This is a Western Digital SN730, not a drive I had heard of before, but it is  a PCIe Gen3 x4 SSD using an in house WD designed controller, 96-layer TLC flash using the NVMe V1.3 spec, what’s impressive to me, given it is used in a laptop is the idle power of this drive, just 3.5mW

Next up is video editing in resolve, now this one surprised me. Whilst editing was very smooth, cutting up files and moving around the timeline had no issues whatsoever. On the default project, it wasn’t using the GPU all that much, going into the settings and forcing the GPU to render on OpenCL and on the Vega6 GPU… it still didn’t use it all that much, I saw a maximum utilisation of 24%, but it pegged the CPU at 100%, all 6 cores and 12 threads, what i expected was it to roar like a jet engine and for the laptop to get warm, what I found instead was after a few minutes the laptop crept up to 60c, that’s when the fans came on, and after they came on it stayed between 57 and 59c, so with the fans on, audible but not uncomfortable, all `2 threads loaded at 1005, the clock speed was 3.7Ghz. So the 15-minute test video I have which is 5 4K H.265 test files snipped and a few text overlays took 17 minutes, and the keyboard deck was not noticeably warmer than before, I was very impressed with this.

Honor MagicBook Pro Review

So, gaming. I’ll start with DOOM 2016 as I played it less and mostly for benchmarking, running in Vulkan on medium settings at 1080p I was able to get a steady 50fps when moving and 35 when interacting with a lot of demons with a lot of particle physics on screen. Dropping that down to 1600×900 bumps that up to almost 60fps at all time. The fact we’re at a point where we can have a relatively modern game, running at a decent resolution on an integrated GPU at 60FPS, is pretty stunning.

 

Now we’re onto the fun bit, Knights of the Old Republic II. A Star Wars game from 2004 and about one of the greatest periods in all of Star Wars lore, the Old Republic, long before the Jedi of the prequels. Having it set at 1080p and cranking every setting up to maximum, so high textures, 8x AA and 16x Anisotropy on battery power, with the performance slider in the middle I was getting over 124fps that’s utterly insane, sure the game isn’t as visually stunning as some newer ones but still 1080p everything cranked to high on an integrated GPU, I’m impressed.

 

Battery

With the MagicBook Pro, I wasn’t expecting the battery life to be as good as it was. Sure the 4600H is an efficient chip, but at the end of the day, it is a dim display that needs to be up near 100% to be easily viewable, and at the end of the day you can’t beat physics, 56Wh is a relatively small battery, many other laptops at this size are in the 70s or 80Wh but they also have the higher performance and less efficient intel chips that require more juice so in the end battery ends up being similar.

 

For battery life testing I watch Avengers Endgame from 100% with brightness at 70% and see what the battery drop was at the end. Whilst this isn’t the most scientific test, a lot of people do sit down and watch films on their laptops, and even though it is a 3-hour film, video decoding is one of the many things bought into the graphics part of the chip so it can be done more efficiently. At the end of Avengers Endgame, the MagicBook Pro had 68% of it is battery remaining, which is a lot better than I was expecting given the metrics I mentioned before. Honor claims 11 hours of battery life on the website and the documentation they sent us, and whilst I don’t think you’d get 11 hours if you were actually using the device to it is full performance, with mixed usage, such as a few hours of web browsing and maybe an hour or two or gaming, I Don’t think 9 hours is unattainable.

 

Charging the MagicBook Pro is pretty simple, it is just a USB-C power brick with a removable USB-C cable, it is a 65w brick and can charge 50% of the battery in half an hour, and it tapers off after that as to preserve the battery life of the laptop itself. A neat trick of the 65w charger is that it also has built-in support for the SuperCharger protocol, so if you happen to have a recent Honor or Huawei phone you can just bring your laptop charger and charge both laptop and phone as fast as possible.

 

Conclusion

The MagicBook Pro surprised me. I knew I was going to be impressed by the 4600H, but I wasn’t ready to be impressed by the battery nor the thermals as much as I was. Even playing games or rendering a video, the fans became audible but the temperatures never became a problem. Whether on my lap with the metal on my legs or when typing and the keyboard deck warming up the thermals were incredibly well controlled.

Honor MagicBook Pro Review

For £850, you are getting a stellar performer of a laptop, and you’re also getting something that will last you all day. I can live with the less than stellar screen brightness and webcam placement for that. Would I have liked the RAM to be replaceable? For sure, on a laptop of this size, there is more than enough room for it, and I can upgrade the SSD to something even larger or faster in the future. Honor has nailed the basics of the laptop, make it look cool, perform well and not burn the user, and for this price, there is a lot to like about the MagicBook Pro.

About Domenico Lamberti

Technology has been a big part of my life for years, whether it be ripping the family computer apart to see how it worked, playing with the new phones that Dad brought home from work. Senior Reviewer for MTT.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.